Rob’s Rundown: Week of July 30 – August 3, 2018
This week, Senator Portman introduced the Trade Security Act, legislation that will reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to better align the statute with its original intent as a powerful trade remedy tool for the president and Congress to respond to genuine threats to national security. Portman, co-chair of the Senate Career & Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, announced his Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, to allow states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies, has been signed into law by President Trump. Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, praised Senate passage of a key appropriations package that fully funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, as well as the final FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report which includes a number of his priorities to support Ohio’s military installations. Lastly, Portman was interviewed by both Bloomberg’s Markets: America and CNN’s At This Hour where he discussed his support for Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh as well as America’s trade policy and the need to resolve trade impasses with key allies as well as with China.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Tuesday, July 31
President Signs Portman Bill to Strengthen Career and Technical Education
Portman, co-chair of the Senate Career & Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, announced his Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, legislation he crafted with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to allow states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies, has been signed into law by President Trump. The bill encourages schools to incorporate key elements of high-quality CTE programs and promotes partnerships between local businesses, regional industries, and other community stakeholders to create work-based learning opportunities for students.
“This law is great news for Ohio, for employers who need skilled workers, and for students to ensure they have access to the highest-quality CTE programs,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan law will improve the quality of CTE programs so kids get a better education using the equipment and the standards of today’s industry. It also includes important accountability information for our most vulnerable students on how well CTE programs are performing so we can ensure quality information and access to programs that meet the needs of students and parents. I believe this measure will make a real difference for Ohio and I want to thank the president for signing it into law.”
Wednesday, August 1
Portman, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster “Cyber Incident Response Teams” to Strengthen Cybersecurity, Protect the Homeland
U.S. Senators Portman and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), both members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bipartisan DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act to bolster cybersecurity by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make permanent the “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams that work to help prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies and the private sector, as well as help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. Cyber response teams play a vital role to help federal agencies, critical infrastructure, and key private sector partners address cyber challenges and disrupt threats from cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, and hostile countries.
The bipartisan DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act works to prevent cyberattacks like the reported Russian hacking attacks on U.S. electric utility companies by encouraging private sector participation with the cyber response teams.
“Our cyber response teams are important resources to protect critical networks and systems from cyber threats in both the public and private sectors,” Senator Portman said. “I look forward to moving this important authorization through the Senate and to the president so that we can give DHS the guidance and authorities it needs to execute this important mission.”
Portman Praises Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill Fully Funding Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, praised Senate passage of the Interior, Financial Services, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture funding package for FY 2019. This legislation includes the full $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to help protect the Great Lakes. Portman sent a letter to Chairman Murkowski in April urging full funding for the GLRI.
“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and GLRI has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy,” said Portman. “As the world’s largest freshwater body, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute $10 billion in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region. I have long championed this program, and I will continue to do everything I can to protect and preserve Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes. I thank my colleagues in the Senate for supporting this legislation, and I will continue to push for full funding in FY19 and beyond.”
Portman, Jones, Ernst Introduce Trade Security Act to Reform National Security Tariff Process & Increase Congressional Oversight
U.S. Senators Portman, Doug Jones (D-AL), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Trade Security Act, legislation that will reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to better align the statute with its original intent as a powerful trade remedy tool for the president and Congress to respond to genuine threats to national security. This legislation addresses concerns that misuse of Section 232 will harm jobs and the economy and likely result in a loss of this trade remedy tool, either at the hands of a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel or as the result of other congressional action. In keeping with the original intent of Section 232, this bill makes common-sense reforms that require the Department of Defense to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and increases congressional oversight of this process. The text of the bill is here. A brief summary is below.
“We must hold countries that violate our trade laws accountable, but we must do so in a way that protects American jobs and strengthens the U.S. economy,” said Senator Portman. “I have repeatedly expressed concerns about the misuse of the Section 232 statute to impose tariffs on automobiles and auto parts, and its impact on Ohio jobs and the U.S. economy as a whole. This bipartisan legislation maintains this trade tool while properly placing the national security designation at the Department of Defense and expanding the role of Congress in the process. As a former USTR, I know that misusing our trade tools not only hurts our exports and our manufacturers, but also our consumers, so I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation.”
Portman Announces Key Wins for Ohio Defense Installations in NDAA Conference Report
Portman praised Senate passage the final FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report which includes a number of his key initiatives to support Ohio’s military installations. The report now goes to the president for signature. He released the following statement:
“This defense bill provides needed resources to rebuild our military, to support our troops, and to provide upgrades and support to Ohio’s defense installations. Our country faces significant security threats around the world, and this bipartisan legislation helps ensure that our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines have the vital resources they need to accomplish their national security missions. Ohio is home to some of the best and brightest serving our country, and some of our nation’s premier defense installations. This important measure authorizes additional funding for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Camp Ravenna and the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Northeast Ohio, Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus, and Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished in this bill for the Buckeye State’s military installations, and I will continue to support our men and women in uniform.”
Portman Praises Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report With Funding for Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center
Portman praised the Senate passage of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report which authorizes $182 million for phase one and two of the modernization effort at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The measure authorizes $61 million for the first year to begin construction. Portman had urged the Armed Services Committee’s leadership to authorize the project. NASIC’s main campus facilities are overcrowded and require modernization to meet today’s missions. With significant total force growth that has outpaced their facility growth, NASIC has been forced to utilize antiquated World War II era facilities on base and temporary structures. This investment in NASIC infrastructure will provide the command with much-needed secure spaces that meet the demands of the growing workforce and the associated information technology requirements of modern facilities. Portman released the following statement:
“I am pleased the Senate supports the mission of NASIC and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and authorized the necessary funding to begin the modernization effort so that they can continue their important work. I look forward to the president signing this conference report soon because new facilities are critical for NASIC to fulfill its increasingly important intelligence analysis mission for our Air Force and national policymakers.”
Portman Praises Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report With Funding for Abrams Tanks and Stryker Vehicles
Portman announced that the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report passed by the Senate includes $1.5 billion in funding to upgrade 135, or 1.5 brigades worth, of Abrams tanks — increasing the rate of production of the newest upgraded Abrams tanks in Lima in order to ensure that our forward deployed tanks have the most cutting-edge capabilities. The report also includes $225 million for upgrading Stryker Vehicles, a $203 million increase over the president’s budget request for these upgrades. Earlier this year, Portman led a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) urging them to increase funding for modernizing Stryker Vehicles in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The report now goes to the president for signature.
Portman released the following statement:
“Passage of this conference report is a big win for Lima and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC), which supports our troops both at home and around the globe. The newest Abrams tank is a vital investment for our soldiers to meet the realities highlighted in the latest National Defense Strategy and they have already started coming off the line at JSMC in Lima. This is important for our armored formations and for Lima and its irreplaceable workforce.”
“I am also pleased the conference report authorizes additional funding for producing Stryker A1 vehicles. The budget request from the Army would have left a gap in production and was not aligned with their vision to outfit all nine Stryker Brigades with this upgraded version. We’ve increased that funding, but I’m hopeful we can do more to provide long-term stability to the industrial base and to keep our soldiers from waiting too long to be fielded with the most capable and survivable vehicle coming off the line.”
Portman Praises Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report With Funding for Camp Ravenna and Youngstown Air Reserve Station
Portman praised Senate passage of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report which includes $7.4 million to expand training capabilities at the Ohio National Guard’s Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center with a new automated machine gun range. Portman sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year requesting this investment in Camp Ravenna. The bill also includes $8.8 million to relocate the main gate at Youngstown Air Reserve Station. Portman discussed the importance of this project with the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber last month. The report now goes to the president for signature. Portman released the following statement:
“I am pleased the Senate passed the NDAA conference report which includes important funding to help our National Guard units training at Camp Ravenna. A new automated multi-purpose machine gun range will give the Ohio Army National Guard an important, new, and much-needed training capability. It will provide our soldiers a realistic environment to meet their training requirements that currently is not available to them in the state of Ohio.
“Securing funding for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station main gate relocation in the bill is also a real benefit to the base and the region. This will both improve security and the flow of people and cargo on and off this busy facility. I look forward to the president signing this conference report into law so these resources can head to the Mahoning Valley as quickly as possible.”
On Bloomberg, Portman Discusses Trade with China, Improving Sanctions on Russia & Election Security
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Markets: America, Portman discussed improving trade relations with China by increasing direct talks between our two countries. Portman also encouraged improving or increasing sanctions on Russia to put additional pressure on the country to change its behavior, including reversing course on its illegal annexation of Crimea and ending hostilities on the Eastern border of Ukraine. He also noted that Congress and social media platforms need to do more to protect America from Russia meddling in our midterm elections.
Thursday, August 2
On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses His Bipartisan Trade Security Act
On the Senate floor, Portman discussed his recently-introduced bipartisan Trade Security Act with Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Joni Ernst (R-IA). This legislation will reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to better align the statute with its original intent as a powerful trade remedy tool for the president and Congress to respond to genuine threats to national security. This legislation addresses concerns that misuse of Section 232 will harm jobs and the economy and likely result in a loss of this trade remedy tool, either at the hands of a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel or as the result of other congressional action. In keeping with the original intent of Section 232, this bill makes common-sense reforms that require the Department of Defense to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and increases congressional oversight of this process.
Said Portman in his speech: “This legislation will help guide our trade policy and ensure that we keep national security and trade issues separate. The strength of America’s economy comes from hardworking and innovative Americans in the shops, plants, and farms that send products across the globe. We want more of that. They deserve a level playing field and the chance to compete. Let’s be sure our trade policy gives them that—and not escalating tariffs for their exports and higher costs for their families. Let’s find that right balance—including restoring an important national security tool by not misusing it.”
On CNN, Portman Discusses his Support for Judge Kavanaugh, his bipartisan Trade Security Act, and the Mueller Investigation
On CNN’s At This Hour, Portman discussed his support for Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh as well as the bipartisan Trade Security Act he introduced to reform the Section 232 statute and the need to resolve our trade issues with China. Portman also highlighted the importance of the Mueller investigation to get to the bottom of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections to prevent a similar result in future elections.
Friday, August 3
Portman Op-Ed in Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Opioids’ Dire Impact on Ohio’s Workforce”
The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities all across Ohio and throughout the United States. One of the consequences of this crisis is that businesses cannot find qualified workers to fill in-demand positions. To expand our workforce and maintain the momentum in our growing economy, Senator Portman argues that we must fight the opioid epidemic so that every Ohioan can reach their God-given potential.
In a Cleveland Plain Dealer op-ed today, Portman wrote: “Our goal should be to get more people out from the grips of addiction and into the workforce where they can have the dignity and self-respect that comes with having a job. Businesses need to get more involved in finding solutions, and I’m working to enact federal policies to help as well.”
At Roundtable, Portman & Local Leaders Discuss How CARA Grant is Helping Whitehall Community Combat the Opioid Epidemic
Portman participated in a roundtable and saw firsthand how grant money awarded through his Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) law is being used to fund a local program called SAFE (Stop Addiction For Everyone) Stations. The SAFE Stations Program is a joint effort between Whitehall’s Division of Fire and Division of Police, the Heart of Ohio Family Health Center, and Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center. It allows people age 18 or older to go to the fire station and ask for help with their addiction. A firefighter or paramedic will conduct a medical evaluation, and the individual can then get taken to a recovery and treatment specialist.
Recently, the Department of Justice awarded Franklin County a $399,999 CARA community enhancement grant to fund this collaborative program between the County and the City of Whitehall. Portman was the author of the bipartisan CARA legislation, signed into law in 2016, which is now providing additional resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs that have proven to work.
“I’m excited to see that the community of Whitehall is benefitting from this substantial grant through my bipartisan CARA legislation, and it was great to see their hard work firsthand this afternoon,” said Portman. “These new funds will help combat the prescription drug and opioid epidemic gripping the Central Ohio area. I was proud to author the CARA legislation and help secure additional opioid funding in the bipartisan budget agreement, and this legislation is clearly benefiting our state. We must do more, and that’s why I continue to push for common-sense solutions like the STOP Act and CARA 2.0 that will help us turn the tide of addiction in Ohio and around the country.
Photos from the event can be found here.
On Social Media
Ohio Sen. Portman wants Trump, Congress to get tougher on Russia
Sen. Rob Portman called on Congress and the Trump administration to adopt even tougher economic sanctions against Russia, saying current restrictions have not convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon his support for pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and yield control of Crimea.
During an interview Sunday on “NBC’s Meet The Press,” Portman, R-Ohio, said while the sanctions against Russia may have been effective enough to “get the Kremlin’s attention,” he said “they obviously have not resulted in the kind of actions and reactions that we would expect.”
“The better way to approach this is to actually go after folks in Russia who are influential, including some of the oligarchs who support President Putin,” Portman said.
Portman is one of a number of Senate Republicans who have supported tougher economic sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, its backing of Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, and support for what Portman called the “murderous” regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
While distancing himself from President Donald Trump’s effort to accommodate Putin at this month’s Helsinki summit, Portman said the Trump administration has adopted the toughest policies against Russia since the Cold War.
Portman said the administration has provided weapons to Ukraine and conducted military exercises in Eastern Europe which is “not making the Kremlin happy.”
“There are concerns, as I expressed after Helsinki, of an inconsistent public posture as to Russia, but in terms of policy, I think the administration is doing things that are appropriate and very tough,” Portman said.
Portman said “we don’t know what happened” when Trump met privately with Putin without the participation of his top foreign policy advisers, adding he does not “know whether to be happy or not.”
“My concern was about the public statements not being consistent and clear with our policies,” Portman said.
Portman said “talks” with Putin “are appropriate,” but in a veiled criticism of Trump he said “you need to be prepared for them.” Trump has often been criticized for not thoroughly preparing himself to meet foreign leaders.
“We are two superpowers and have nuclear weapons and need to talk,” Portman said.
(Ohio Sen. Portman wants Trump, Congress to get tougher on Russia. Jack Torry. Dayton Daily News. July, 29, 2018.)
Senate bill would give DoD lead over national security tariffs
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would give the Defense Department greater authority over the president's ability to use national security as a justification for imposing tariffs or other trade barriers.
"I have repeatedly expressed concerns about the misuse of the Section 232 statute to impose tariffs on automobiles and auto parts, and its impact on Ohio jobs and the U.S. economy as a whole," bill sponsor Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in a statement. The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.).
The Trade Security Act would rein in President Donald Trump's use of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The law allows the president to impose tariffs if the Commerce Department finds that the imports in question pose a risk to national security. Trump has already used the law to put in place tariffs on steel and aluminum and is considering using it on imports of automobiles.
The proposed bill would require DoD, not Commerce, to lead the investigation into whether certain imports pose a national security risk. Commerce would be tasked with determining an appropriate remedy if Defense finds a clear national security risk.
The bill would also give Congress a larger role, giving lawmakers the power to disapprove of any action taken under Section 232 by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. Currently, Congress can only take such action if tariffs or other trade restrictions are applied to oil imports. Congress would also have to be consulted closely through the entire investigative process.
The bill from Portman, Ernst and Jones joins other legislative efforts to scale back Trump's trade powers. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have been pushing for a bill that would require Congress to approve any actions taken under Section 232. Steel importers have also mounted a legal case challenging the underlying constitutionality of the law.
(Senate bill would give DoD lead over national security tariffs. Adam Behsudi. Politico. August 1, 2018.)